Robert De Niro did the rounds of auditions, like all actors.
He soon realised it was no good waiting for people to give
him a break: he had to create one. He found an interesting
book byPeter Savage and Joseph Carter called Raging Bull
that he thought could be turned into a film, with him play
ing the lead role. He carried itaround with him and showed
it to everyone. It was the life story of a boxer called Jake
LaMotta. De Niro persuaded a film producer to finance a
film based on the book. The producer had one condition:
that director Martin Scorsese came on board. Scorsese
wasn't interested, though - he didn't like boxing and
thought LaMotta wasn't a significant fighter as his only
talent was absorbing punishment. After weeks of persua
sion by De Niro, however, Scorsese became intrigued by
LaMotta's fight with his inner demonsand agreed. Thefilm
went into production. De Niro gained sixty pounds to
portray LaMotta in his post-boxing years, an extraordinary
commitment at the time. Raging Bull went on to become
one of the most critically acclaimed films ever and won De
Niro the Academy Award for best actor.
To produce anything worthwhile, you have to be proactive
and generate it, not sit around and wait. Most people sleep
walk through life, never asking themselves what they're
doing, why, or if it really matters to them. They absorb the
values oftheir culture, parents and friends, and then accept
One of my creativity workshop participants was an actor
with an interest in Shakespeare. He was attending endless
auditions but wasn't getting any roles. We analysed his
predicament. He needed the approval of theatre direc
tors to pass the auditions. Why not become your own
theatre director? I suggested. Put on the play yourself?
No money for other actors? Play all the roles yourself. No
props? Make them yourself out of cardboard boxes. He
became a one-man Shakespeare company. He staged
Hamlet and played all the parts. His shows were unique,
fascinating and unexpected. He became such a huge
success he was offered parts in Broadway plays. He turned
themdown. Why go back to being at the mercy of others'
The principle applies to everyone. Do you think interde
partmental communication could be better where you
work? Then instigate a solution. Do you want to be a
writer? Stop sitting waiting for your big idea - just start
We come alive when we're generating something we
consider worthwhile. The creative drive on with the projects
that matter to them. If they feel what they're doing is of real
significance they devote all their energy and time to it.
Doing what matters iswhat matters.
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